>> Sri Lanka's deepening political crisis is pitting old rivals China and India against each other in a tug-of-war for influence in South Asia. The turmoil boiled over into a deadly clash at the weekend. The key player in the fallout, President Sirisena. He fired Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on Friday and named a former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to replace him.
The ousted pro-India minister says his firing was illegal and unconstitutional. The new PM, Rajapaksa, is seen as a powerful ally of China. During his presidency, he opened Sri Lanka's main port to Chinese naval submarines and it's drawing concern in New Delhi that China could tighten it's grip on the island.
Here to make sense of all that is Reuters Raju Gopalakrishnan.>> India has always seen Sri Lanka as a sphere of its influence. And it's been involved in Sri Lankan politics for a long time. When Rajapaksa came up for re-election in 2015, India were quite involved in building up the coalition against him.
Rajapaksa quite unexpectedly lost that election, and China lost a friend in what it considered a very sensitive and strategic area. Strategic because it sits just north of the main east-west shipping lines. And also, Sri Lanka is fairly close to Diego Garcia, which is the biggest US base in the Indian Ocean.
>> China's come under fire for huge investment support as part of its Belt and Road initiative, a $1.4 billion development in Sri Lanka is among them. Critics warn Belt and Road runs the risk of driving smaller nations into debt and and could affect their sovereignty. Countries like Malaysia and Pakistan are beginning to push back against some projects.
And Beijing lost a pro-China leader in the Maldives during recent elections. Rajapaksa's come back in Sri Lanka though is a win.>> What's happened with this particular development in that Beijing seems to have clawed back some ground after quite some reverses. In fact, one person said it's now back to China one, India one.
>> Sri Lanka's ousted prime minister maintains he's still in power and the Government remains dissolved.